Sunday, 16 January 2011

Not a slaty backed gull.

As the title suggests I wasn't one of the lucky few to see a Slaty Backed Gull this friday just gone, slightly regretting my decision not to rush across London that day presuming it would stay and be seen well again. C'est la vie, the french would say. Or Merde.

Today was much more successful though, ended up going to Barnes again where I bumped into a Brent Res birder who'd obviously brought with him some luck for his once annual winter trip to Barnes. A gorgeous Woodcock fly over once whilst in the WWF Hide was then repeated as we were walking to the peacock tower with the bird circling right over our heads, showing off and giving me some the best flight views of Woodcock I've ever had. The female Scaup was still present, initially being pointed out to me sleeping in front of the observatory and then had good but distant views of it swimming about from the peacock tower. And just to top things off the bird I'd been most hoping to see popped up on the shingle island in front of the tower, a very pretty little Water Pipit, disguised ridiculously well against the shingle.

Three very good London birds in one day, and I only got to the site at 12PM.

Other highlights were a male Sparrowhawk, loads of Wigeon, Shelduck, a pair of Pintail and the usual delightful Lapwings. Large gulls were notably absent however, which left me unable to even string a Slaty Backed :(

The light was so appaling that the camera again didn't get much of an outing although I did have a go at photographing the Water Pipit...

 Spot the Water Pipit.

Just trust me, there's a Water Pipit there.

Part of about 60 Wigeon.

And these are a couple from Chiswick Eyot on Saturday.

Not a Slaty-Backed Gull.

Not a Slaty-Backed Gull. It is ringed though, but I couldn't read it.

Not a Slaty-Backed Gull.

Not Slaty-Backed Gulls.
P.S I'm getting good at these unintentionally arty shots.

Thursday, 13 January 2011


Went to the London Wetland Centre on Sunday where I bumped into Neville Smith and Matt Bourne who helped put me onto the most interesting birds straight away, which was helpful considering within about an hour of arriving at the site I urgently had to leave! Managed to catch up with a Bittern and the female Scaup that's been there for a couple of days as well as all the regulars, the gorgeous Lapwings, Wigeon, Shovelers and Snipe. The camera never got itself out of the bag though so unfortunately I don't have any pictures to go with these names.

I will, instead, use the opportunity to post some of my older photos (about week ago :P). I think I've come to the realisation that I am not and never will be a prolific bird blogger. I'm never going to compete with the greats of blogging (Wanstead Birding for a start!), I don't know what it is but there's something I lack. Whether it's the creativity or the desire to share with the rest of the world something going on in my head I seem to lack the impetus to actually get writing, to sit down and compose something that aside from the bare facts of this bird was seen here at this time and there's a kind-of-recognisable photo of it will actually be of some use to people, provide some sort of cerebral stimulation and give them something to think about. Whilst there might well be thoughts of this manner floating about my head I don't quite know how to express them with the written word nor how to fit them in behind the guise of this, a birding blog. No great loss as it's just something that I've come to realise I prefer to enjoy by reading the fruits of someone else's imaginative labour, rather than try to force myself to think of something original and interesting to post.

That's not to say I'm packing the blog in, far from it! Instead I think I'm just going to make the rest of my posts clearer and more concise, to offer them just as an ornithological record for anybody who might be interested or who chance upon this blog. It'll save the odd pressure I feel that anything I write should have to be something else, something more.

Here, pictures:

 Oi Oi Cheeky Boy.


I'm sure this is symbolic somehow

P.S If this post appears a load of tosh excuse me for the fact that I'm kicking back after a week of exams.

Monday, 3 January 2011

A New Year

Well the New Year has come around and it's the time when people begin posting their roundups of 2010, hopes for 2011 and 'the year in pictures' style posts. Having only had the Blog for a couple of months and not made much use of it I don't think doing the same here that I'd really have too much to mention but I'm still in the jolly mode of the festive season so I'll give it a little bit of a go.

The year ended up with a lovely trip up to Leeds to stay with family for Christmas and New Years and a couple of visits to Fairburn Ings where I racked up a lifer in the form of a couple of Willow Tits as well as a very showy Water Rail and my first ever views of a Weasel and Mink.

Overall it's been a great year, I didn't get up to half as much birding as I would have liked but there've been some seriously good birding experiences I've had. My trip earlier in the year to Extremadura probably being my best birding experience of the year. A close second in wildlife terms was also my trip on the Pride of Bilbao, the birds amounted to a Sabine's, some Manxies, a couple of Storm Petrels and lots of Gannets and Fulmars but it was brilliant nonetheless. Watching a Bonxie come in right over the bow of the boat on the last, drizzly day being mobbed by a Storm Petrel was incredible. As were the Cetaceans, Long Finned Pilot Whales, Sperm Whales, Minke Whale, 3 Species of Dolphin and a genuinely beautiful moment where a Cuvier's Beaked Whale logged peacefully just beneath the water barely a meter from the boat were all totally new experiences for me and from the moment we set off had me hooked on Pelagic Wildlife.

So what do I want from 2011?

Really I could do well to sum it up in one word, happiness. The family and friends around me have provided me with plenty of it this year and if there's one thing that I can be bold enough to ask for this coming year it's more of the same.

In fact to ask what I want from 2011 seems a little defeatist. Here's what I'm going to get from 2011:

  • See more Cetaceans, I've really bitten the bug now.
  • See more Birds. More lifers and more dedicated patch working. Out at the crack of dawn type stuff.
  • Keep up French. I no longer have to do a language at school so I'd really like to try and keep learning for the sake of learning it. There might also be a chance I could begin to learn some Albanian for this year which would be mega exciting.
  • Succeed in my exams. Ultimately this is going to be one of the most important things I do this year so I better do it well. 

Simple enough...